Aurora Health Care is one of the most experienced organizations in the nation in developing therapies for patients with life-threatening cancers. At Aurora, vital laboratory-based research is conducted in three primary areas:
- Immunology research is focused on identifying the factors that turn the immune system on and off.
- Cancer immunotherapy research helps create procedures to retrain the immune system to recognize and destroy tumors.
- Endocrine research uses a technique developed by Aurora scientist and Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Professor Hershel Raff, PhD, to determine the level of a stress hormone called cortisol saliva.
The immunology research lab studies the human immune system in the clinical setting of transplantation and cancer. Since 1995, the lab’s primary focus has been deciphering the role of the CTLA-4 molecule in immune regulation. Over the past two years, Martin Oaks, PhD, has begun investigations into the effect of glycosylation of antibodies (particularly IgG) on immunoregulatory functions. These studies take advantage of Aurora’s diverse and unique solid organ transplant and immunotherapy programs.
The immunotherapy research lab focuses on the modification of the immune response against cancer to improve patient outcome. The three areas of focus are:
- The mechanism of how antibodies targeting tumors influence the immune response.
- How to combine immune modulating antibodies or small molecules to enhance the immune response by stimulating immune function or by inhibiting tumor mediated immune suppression.
- Evaluating the effects of immune modulating antibodies on vaccines that prevent infectious disease in patients that have generalized immune dysfunctions associated with tumor growth or developed during cancer therapy.
The endocrine research lab studies the short- and long-term effects of neonatal hypoxia. The primary focus is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with a particular emphasis on the cellular mechanisms of the synthesis of adrenal steroid hormones. We are also studying the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis in critically ill patients.